Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 11.4

Monday, November 4th, 2019


November 4, 2019

A quick look at what’s happening in Washington, D.C. that’s impacting food and agriculture. If you would like to subscribe to the receive the updates right to your inbox, please contact Marissa Dake

Big Picture Outlook

Labor Bill Introduced to Address Ag Workforce Shortages– Last week, House lawmakers introduced The Farm Workforce Modernization Act in an effort to focus on the shortage of agricultural labor in the US and address gaps in the current system. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced the bill that would expand and simplify the H-2A foreign guest worker program and establish a mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for the agricultural sector. It also proposes a solution for employers needing year-round labor, like that of the dairy industry, by allotting temporary three-year visas and 40,000 extra green cards for agricultural labor. The bill was introduced with 24 Democrats and 20 Republicans co-sponsors and has seen wide-spread support from several agriculture groups and labor organizations, including Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.”Dairy farming has come to increasingly depend on foreign-born employees, who have proven to be invaluable,” explained Edge President Brody Stapel in a recent statement, “We urge lawmakers in both the House and Senate to ensure that the bill is practical and helpful to our farmers, and then to move it forward to the president.”

Ag Appropriations Advances out of Senate– On Thursday, the Senate passed a package of appropriations bills on Thursday, which will fund Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Interior and Environment agencies through the 2020 fiscal year. The spending package included two amendments. The first, introduced by Senator Cortez Masto (D-NV) directs USDA to evaluate challenges that food distribution programs face in reaching undeserved populations. The other, offered by Senator Jones (D-AL), funds $5 million towards a USDA relending program on “heirs property” that was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill, which passed 84-9, will now go to conference, where negotiators will reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills. Federal agencies are currently operating under a stopgap “continuing resolution,” which expires on November 21.

House Agriculture Committee Clears CFTC Reauthorization– The House Agriculture Committee passed legislation to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission through 2025, over six years after the previous measure expired. The legislation, approved by voice vote, requires CFTC to establish research programs for emerging technologies and technological advances and would also authorize the agency’s enforcement authority to prosecute market fraud or manipulation.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
  • The Department of Health and Human Services will host a meeting of the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health on issues related to migrant and seasonal agricultural worker health. The meeting will continue on November 7.
Thursday, November 7, 2019
  • The Senate Agriculture Committee will discuss, “Implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill: Rural Development and Energy Programs.”

MTA In Action

Last week, MTA hosted the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau’s (CIRB) Executive Committee, Emerging Leaders Program, and general members for a fall fly-in. The group met with more than 35 Congressional offices to discuss the importance of protecting, preserving and improving crop insurance and received hands-on advocacy and issues training from staff.
Members of the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Peterson (D-MN).
CIRB members from COUNTRY Financial and Hudson Crop Insurance met with Congressman TJ Cox (D-CA) who sits on the House Agriculture Committee.
Members of the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Roberts (R-KS).


MTA Seeks Spring Intern

Michael Torrey Associates is seeking current students or recent graduates with an interest in agriculture policy for its internship program. The ideal intern will bring an enthusiasm for learning, strong work ethic, and excellent oral and written communication skills. This paid position will interact with the firm’s other team members to provide support on various legislative and communications projects. Click here for more information.

Left: Interns from across the food and agriculture sector at MTA’s Food & Ag Intern Ice Cream Social.

Right: Summer ’19 Intern Brooke Schafer with the MTA team at the Congressional Hunger Center’s 2019 Hunger Leadership Awards.

file-5MTA at CHC

A Quick Look Back